Every musical output nowadays comes with a booklet holding the words to the songs. For some listeners lyrics are of rather secondary importance while others pay double attention to the lines brisking up their minds. With no doubt - music and poetry have been connected ever since. This time though you're not reading about music as usual. This time you're reading about poetry. In case you struggle - poetry as the form of literary art. Poetry of which Thomas Gray said that it "is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn;" Edgar Allan Poe defined as "the rhythmical creation of beauty in words;" for Novalis it was what "heals the wounds inflicted by reason;" and as quoted in "Dead Poet's Society": "Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for." In this special we'd like to present a piece of poetry in form of a lyric book published by our editorials busiest member, Hendrik Behnisch. "Asleep In The Storm" is a book containing poems illustrated by photography. Take a closer look at something beautiful, which for a change doesn't need harsh drums to get itself heard. Poetry is like music, just that the sound's on mute...
Hendrik, please tell our readers, what's the idea behind your lyric book?
The idea of doing something like this has been living in me for a couple of years already. Back in 2000, I felt the urge to express myself artistically for the first time. And since then, writing has simply belonged to me and has accompanied me through my life. In some way I surely started defining myself as a writer: So, it was a logical consequence to finally follow my desires and put more effort than ever before into a creative project of mine. It actually was one of the main motivations for me: To come up with something as perfect as possible, with something that embodies a beautiful little world of its own. Something I can be proud of, that on the one hand represents me honestly, but also gives space to the reader to take it in his individual ways - one of the great richnesses of lyricism, I think. However, because of the atmospherical depth that I at any price wanted to achieve I decided to incorporate the photographs. It simply gives a further dimension to the book, additionally to the poetry itself. In my opinion it makes the reading experience deeper and the whole piece gets richer through this gloomy, atmospheric artwork. The lyrics haven't been inspired by anything or anyone in particular, they're mostly abstract diaries of my life and I think I pretty much have my own style, but the arrangement of the images surely got influenced by certain artworks of bands like Sentenced, Katatonia or ShamRain. With my friend Nomisum -who did the layout and photo retouch- I had a professionally helping hand with me all the time, which I'm very grateful for.
What was the intention to release it?
The final piece looked too good just to print one copy for personal pleasures (laughs). Well, mainly I was tired of outliving my visions only in my own little world. Why not trying to share them with others? I believe -for some people- it's worth dealing with it. To get new inspirations and different perspectives on certain things. But I don't want to put a specific message through - because who am I to tell people what do? The lyrics should in the best case be thought-provoking, but of course it's all up to the readers how they perceive "Asleep In The Storm". And besides that, I'm curious as hell how people react towards it and what kind of feedback I might get. There's so much crap out there that gets promoted as art and through clever promotion it gets sold. I just want to enter a different game because I do believe in the quality of what I'm doing.
Who do you want to reach with this lyric book? Who could be your audience? Or are you a lonely dark knight who doesn't care for an audience as long as there's the medium to carry your message into the world?
I really have no clue who could be the audience. Open-minded, curious people, maybe also other writers or musicians. And fans of the bands I've mentioned before might feel comfortable in the mood my book is creating. But all in all, the release is more like an experiment for me. I don't have too high expectations about the public interest, this way I might get positively surprised!
Your lyric book includes beautiful pictures, which help creating the gloomy, fragile, depressive but also freeing and majestic mood. Though the pictures are just a supporting element they truly also play a role of their own... What can you tell about the photographs? Where did you take them and what do they embody for you and maybe also the reader?
Thanks for your kind words about the pictures, I do like them a lot, too. In fact I carefully chose them to visually shape a red line throughout the book. However, I agree to you that they also have an individual role beside the lyrics. Still I have to say that I don't consider myself as a photographer and without my friend Nomisum who gave the pictures a little face-lift they surely wouldn't look that great. So, the main element of the book still are the lyrics to me. But anyway, the pictures have been taken throughout the years on several journeys through Europe. Most of them show actually Scandinavian landscapes, some have been taken in Scotland and Germany. In my opinion most of the photographs inside the book carry a certain mood of loneliness: There are no people to be seen on them. That's why I wanted to have a cover with a different attitude. I wanted to have an individual who visualizes the mood, who gives face to the feelings in the book. Because of that I came up with the idea of a melancholic, absent-minded girl on the cover. There definitely has been the risk to make it appeal like a Gothic-clichee. But I think we luckily avoided that and the cover gets its strength from its simplicity. I always get the feeling that there's something going on beneath the surface when I look at the picture - and that's what a good cover should look like. Thanks to Gosia for being the perfectly looking cover model and to Gerrit for looking so nicely fucked up as a businessman in haste!
What's your favorite poem of "Asleep in the Storm"?
Of course I like them all, but some definitely more than others. Since I've always appreciated originality and uniqueness, I consider those two to three breakup lyrics in the book definitely not as the highlights in terms of contents. They just needed to be written down to get rid of certain feelings - now I finally stepped into the clichee trap, didn't I? But anyway, I like for example "Heritage" and "Generation Behind A Veil" pretty much as they have this rather global perspective, addressing mankind in general and leaving the narrow ego view behind. And of course the first one "Through Stillborn Times" and the last one, "Cherish", since they can be read as confessions that reveal a lot about my attitude towards life. They're actually pretty profound in my opinion. As profound as a 23-years-old fool's thoughts can be at least (laughs). But apart from the melancholic mood that dominates the scenery it's very important to me that also lighter lyrics got incorporated in the book. A very good example is "Tailwinds" that pretty much praises the feeling of travelling and it's kind of an ode to being abroad. I actually got the idea for it at the end of my last Finland journey in April 2008, when I had a beer with Entwine singer Mika in Lahti. At some point we ended up talking about the fact that "home" basically is in your head and that it's a great quality if you can feel comfortable wherever you are – having faith in strangers and believing in happy endings. It might sound naive, but it's a beautiful naiveness and that's definitely the way I felt back then in Finland. I like "Tailwinds", especially since I have no interest in constantly dragging my readers down. Even though I usually fail in avoiding it, that's at least what I've heard so far... (laughs).
You are also writing music in a rather private frame and of course you are a journalist. What is the most fulfilling and for you satisfying kind of literary form of expression?
It's hard to pick one of those. As you mentioned, I also do music privately. Due to a lack of professional skills, it's more a hobby-thing for me - in that case I really don't think of an audience. So, making music is a good way for me to forget my surroundings and to let my feelings flow. But writing -no matter whether poems or novels- is something I feel I'm good at. And it's really satisfying to look at a finalized piece of art that waits to be dealt with by others. As I said in the beginning, I tried to make "Asleep In The Storm" as perfect as possible, somehow timelessly beautiful - even though that might now sound too dramatic to some (laughs). Anything you'd like to add?
Firstly and most importantly, I want to thank you for giving me space at Tuskasi, especially since my project isn't directly linked to (Metal) music. Actually I'm very happy about the result and now it's up to the people how they take it. In any case I hope there will be people who find something in it, something that maybe inspires them, that surprises them... I don't know. But as long as others get feelings out of my lyric book, I've already succeeded. Because in my opinion art has always been one of the best ways to make life richer, to give us some more meaning in general - especially in every day life, when we easily crawl from dead end to dead end without getting anywhere. If "Asleep In The Storm" gives the reader anything and doesn't pass him or her by without a trace, I'm already more than happy. Because I want to give something to the people, that's what I've realized during the process of making this book. I hope some of you will perceive "Asleep In The Storm" as something enriching.
Hendrik Behnisch is a German-based independent writer, who has his roots in Berlin. Besides working for Tuskasi he's a full-time student and passionate traveller. He has also participated in several music projects. After his first novel "Valkama" was released in 2006 (only in German yet, but Tim Baumann currently turns the story into an English independent movie: www.valkaama.com) the second output now sees the light of day in shape of the lyric book "Asleep In The Storm". This autumn his new place of residence will be Gothenburg, Sweden.
"Asleep In The Storm" contains 28 pages of poetry and atmospheric photography. The first edition is limited to 50 copies and each copy is hand-numbered.
Since it's a self-financed project, the contribution towards costs is 5€ (+postages). Still, its purpose is a non-profit one. For further information and more pdf-samples from the book take a look at: